A New Law Could Prevent Airlines from Shrinking Seats to Profit More
Hard to imagine flights being any more uncomfortable than they currently are, but there’s nothing to prevent airlines from making that sky commute even more daunting. While airplane seats have shrunk over the past 30 years, the cost of airfare continues to rise. Without government regulation, there’s nothing to prevent airlines from continuing to reduce your legroom.
A New Law
A bipartisan bill has recently been introduced in the House and Senate that could establish minimum airplane seat width and distance between rows. The new law is known as the SEAT Act of 2018, which would require the Federal Aviation Administration to set the limits, and require airlines to prominently display seat sizes and legroom information on their websites.
“Airline passengers are tired of being squeezed,” said Democratic Congressman Steve Cohan from Tennessee in a press release earlier this month. Cohen introduced the bill to Congress. “Shrinking seat sizes in airplanes isn’t just a matter of comfort but the safety and health of passengers as well. Planes need to be capable of rapid evacuation in case of emergency,” the statement read.
Seven members of Congress from both parties introduced the bill, including Democratic Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer of New York and Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger of Illinois.
As seasoned travelers know, the distance between seats varies widely from airline to airline. Shrinking the space between seats allows airlines to add more rows of seats, and increase ticket sales at the expense of traveler comfort.
Space between rows has dropped 4 inches from the 1970s to now, while the average seat width has shrunk from 18 inches to about 16.5. There is no current federal mandate that states how much space airlines must have between seat rows other than in the exit rows.
This isn’t the first time Cohen has attempted to make air travel more comfortable. He introduced a similar amendment to the FAA Reauthorization bill last year.
How do you feel about the government stepping in to regulate airlines? Is it their place to dictate seat size, or should it be up to the airlines to make decisions that are best for business?
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